A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Grade Scale adopted at MetalKings.com (starting from the lowest)

1 - Shite
2 - Could be worse
3 - Could be better
4 - Damn good
5 - Killer

4+/5
AGALLOCH
The Mantle
2002
Prophecy Productions/CD-Maximum
Folk-Rock/Ambient/Black

Hm, a very weird CD I must say. The music sucks you in a weel of memories and pondering over thoughts and dreams that have no limits or frames. A slow acoustic batter, weighted and emotional drum-pounding and a backdrop of electric guitars. Through the monotonous snaking of the songs you can hear the mandolins, trombones, accordions, bells, contrabass, unobtrusive synth FX, and digitally processed sounds of nature. Vocals are few and far between coming predominantly in the form of low male bass and quiet whispering. The musicians did leave some room on the album for the classic black metal passages with all the necessary stylistic attributes, including screams (but not blast beats, thank you please). These, being comparatively slow, however do no interfere with the overall slacking of the album. If we try to bond 'Mantle' into a comparison of a sort I'd call for the pre-electronic era of Norway's Ulver, with the exception of Agalloch being more weighted and without unnecessary plotline collapses. More importantly Agalloch are Americans, very untypical. Well, we ain't had one before but we do now (St.Ded)

5-/5
CARPE TENEBRUM
Dreaded Chaotic Reign
2002
Hammerheart/FONO
Something mosntrous and angelic

All of the flowers that the grateful listeners bring to the studio should go to none other but Herr Astennu himself, for his is the mastermind and the sole driving force behind this truly unique and powerful project. At first sight the material sounds a lot like Morbid Angel, but years of imprisonment in the foggy fortress of Dimmu Borgir could not have passed without leaving their trace on the creator of DCR. So when you peel off the decorative coating from this seemingly death metal album, you understand that people just do not change their musical tastes like that. The spirit of Black Metal is oozing out of each guitar riff and even drum beat. Another echo of Astennu's blackened past is the proud and majestic symphonic canvas that he put into the middle of the album. I mean those are samples but boy are they just splendid! The sound overall is very mechanistic: the thick, apocalyptic guitar buzz, phantasmagoric motor-beats, and the sudden plain-shifts create an atmosphere of hellish or else factory [J] heat. Another point worth mentioning are the vocals for as it has turned out Astennu knows his vocal chords pretty damn well and does put them to good roaring use. If you expect to hear anything melodic here, you've got a wrong CD, pal, but the compositions are still devilishly complex, monolithic, and murderously ruthless. Bravo! (St.Ded)

2/5
CENTURION
Non Plus Ultra.
2002
Scarlet Records/CD-Maximum
Heavy/Power

Well, this is something! Musically the band is a pronounced Judas Priest clone (the Painkiller era to be precise), and the vocals hm Imagine a big fat Bukhara emir, who has just finished his fifth goblet of red wine spicing it with three deep drags of the kingdom's best calean. With that the emir decides to cater his pride and, jacking the saber away from the chief guard, slashes off half of his senior eunuch's heel. Get it? Now imagine that after that he informs the eunuch, that if the latter does not single-handedly strangle the cat, which will be brought to the hall straight away, he will cut off his other heel too. The cat is brought in and the doors are locked. And the eunuch, his features contorted in violence, shoots off to catch the poor creature. And now try to imagine the sounds he will be producing during the chase? Jolly good, now you have a close idea of what kind of vocals you will hear on "Non Plus Ultra." Well, yes, I do agree that there are a lot of people who cannot stand heavy metal primarily because of the vocal specifics, and I know jolly well that the voices of Rob Halford or, let alone, King diamond do require some getting used to, but I know what I'm talking about. I don't want to impose any skepticism on you but I am positive there is none other like the honorable Germano Quintaba (at least I hope there isn't). I'm just warning you if you have a problem with people who like to exercise their throat, or rather their listeners' ears, you watch out for Mr. Quitaba there. For the braver half of you - sometimes he even tries to sing in a more accessible manner! ;) As for the music - classic heavy-power, intense, cranky, with aggressive riffing, cheery drumming, and bobbling solos. Oh yes, there was also a ballad there an 8-minute one but that was already beyond me. (St.Ded)

3-/5
DIABOLICAL
A Thousand Deaths
2002
Scarlet Records/CD-Maximum
New wave of Swedish fast melodic pop

A very original recording! Especially against the background of a dozen other The Haunted copycats that look exactly like one another and have very distinctive features. Yes, that's exactly what I would have liked to say about this album, but unfortunately do not have any good reason to do so, for Diabolical are the typical representatives of the crowd of the genre-leaders' henchmen. A bit of history - The Haunted were formed in 1996 on the remnants of the great At the Gates and became the founding fathers of the now so popular NWOSFMTM. Partly reworking and crystallizing the original ideas, the roots of which were still to be found in At the Gates, the haunted made the creative flywheel spin with new force. Unchecked guitar galloping, crazed ass drumming, and a brain-swarming, head-crushing scream - this was the perfect formula that found its way to the thousands of zit-covered hearts making them beat at a double rate and forcing the alcohol-impregnated, but still very energetic organisms take upon their instruments and infest the local studios. I will agree with the fact that Odling's vocals ruin me speakers in a much more inspiring way, then a multitude of other singers of this category. The guitars too look better than a lot of others in the scene, and at least do not sound gimpy. "Let each reap what he'd sown", - was it? Or was it something else? Or was it that at all? ;) Devil only knows! The point is I grant the boys an additional cred and let them be happy with it. (St.Ded)

3/5
DIVINE SOULS
The Bitter Selfcaged Man
2002
Scarlet Records/CD-Maximum
New wave of Swedish melodic death metal

You ask me what I think about "The Bitter Selfcaged Man"? Well, yes, I do like In Flames. Irritated you repeat that you want to know me opinion on the new Divine Souls release that went out last year. Well, I do not think I have anything to add really Do you remember this fairy tale where a group of free-princess lovers was told by the king that their reward was however much they could carry away on their shoulders? Well who could know there'd be a prospector who'd carry away the whole treasury? Likewise our Swedish friends have taken advantage of the fact that accord to law cribbage proper is only full copying of a song. People say that if you steal just a little you gonna get in trouble, but if you are mega-scale thief stealing in enormous amounts, you will be honored and respected for that. DS is a crying example of how you could snitch away entirely everything from someone. And I mean every damn little thing. Boy did these guys do a good job at it, and really the result never leaves any room for criticism. Ut, let us get back to what In Flames sounds like over the past 6 years ;) Frolic, melodic and well-spanned riffs with jingling and charming plunking, and the not so aggressive but still anxious and inventive drumming passages. An occasional keyboard here and there. In short - damn good music. On the other hand, the screamo-groans of Mathias of DS sound totally vomitty. Pardon me if I am trotting upon someone else's musical or maybe religious tastes, but I did not like that particular sound. And when in one of the last songs I've finally heard a magnificent and ever-ringing beautiful clean voice - somewhere halfway between Warrel Dane of Nevemore and Dan Swano - I became completely frustrated. This Mathias dude is real weird (St.Ded)

4-/5
DOWN SYNDROME
Sacrilege
2003
Self-released
melodic death

This really nice album is brought forward by a group of lads from the Russian town of Pechora - the "adobe, - according to the press-release, - of hungry and belligerent miners and oilers". Down Syndrome have been around for some 10 years now with all of this time being an active creative period despite all the staff changes and other temporary difficulties. That is apparently the reason why Sacrilege sounds a lot better than most of the futile efforts of young bands, who'd flood the market with their amateurish god-only-knows-why-released albums. Here we are catered with pretty aggressive melodic death with obvious black metal elements, especially abundant in the first track. Well in fact, when I first saw the album, I'd expected it to be one of those "nekro kvlt troo and evil" releases, misguided by the hellish corpsepaint on the face of the keyboardist, but as it has turned out - luckily - the melodic-death key is still dominant here. One of the most interesting songs on the record is Dying Theatre, which really pulls at your inner strings, although I still cannot understand why. The keyboards are sometimes too much on the Gloomy Grim side, but still these muthas are real-real good The definite downside of Sacrilege is the drum machine, since obviously a real drummer would have made the CD much more alive... or dead - for that matter. (Debbie Boink)

4-/5
INTERNECINE
The Book of Lambs
2002
Hammerheart/FONO
death

The Morbid Angel school cannot pass unnoticed for anyone and Jared Anderson here - the current frontman of Hate Eternal and the man who rolled together with Azagthoth and Co. on a dozen of gigs - is no exception. And "The Book of Lambs" is just another graphic and sound proof of the above statement. In its essence Internecine is a top quality, but still a clone of Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal (BFS - big fucking surprise!) and everyone else from that legion, with the only exception of being a lot more psychedelic. Whether this is good or bad I am not the one to judge, for despite all of its secondarity and numerous "quotations" in the part of musical solutions and ideas, I still have to admit I did like the album a lot. The sound and mixing that was tasked to none other than Erik Rutan (more BFS!) is also beyond all possible praise, so, with that and the rest of it in mind - if you like MA and HE, Internecine may easily join the triumvirate. (Troll)

4/5
MELANCHOLY
Fear Of Emptiness
2003
CD-Maximum
Manyfaceted rock/Industrial metal

I do have to say I am pleasantly surprised: these are the heights our rock has reached very few times. Melodic and well-balanced material that is full of charm and at the same time has absolutely no unnecessary pathos, is no second-rate, and has no primitiveness whatsoever. The list of guitar moves used is also amazingly large: the sad harmonies in the vein of late Amorphis a replaced by long plunking (with bass guitar too), while the decadent-rock riffs a-la Manson give way to rapid solo offshoots. The synth-world too is extremely rich going from psychedelic goggling to Depeche Mode-like percussion FX. The live drum parts are probably the only item that has nothing special - professional but standard. The vocals are many-faceted in all meanings of the word, represented by both strong, but with that still very tender, female rock-singing, female declamation, as well as about 4-5 types of clean male vocals, plus growls and screams, with an occasional evil Dani Filth (a-la The Principle of Evil Made Flesh). The only drawback in my opinion is the lack of national hue, but that's nit-picking. As for the rest of it the album is quite good, and I hope we will be able to call the next one a masterpiece. (St.Ded)

3-/5
MERAUDER
Bluetality
2003
Century Media Records/FONO
Thrash/Industrial

If we do not consider the structure of the vocal parts (that are plain tasteless) and the vocals themselves (a Max Cavalera attempt of doubtful quality), everything else is pretty good and well-worked, but for the aspect of individuality that is simply not there. Take something from the pre-breakup Sepultura (say "Roots") mix it with some slower Sodom of the "Till Death Do Us Unite" or "Code Red" era, add a little Korn and voila. The obtained mixture is to be taken three times a day before the meal and in less than two weeks the strange atypical syndrome of "Bluetality" will stop bothering you. Hard and aggressive mid-tempo riffs, most standard drum parts ever, mediocre choruses, and a very high level of recording professionalism. Unfortunately the expiring date of this CD is 15 years ago. Back then it could have been considered fresh and original (if!), but not now (St.Ded)

5/5
POISONBLACK
Escapexstacy
2003
Century Media Records/FONO
gothic rock

What would happened if Ville Laihiala of Sentenced would pick up guitar, and let J.P. Lepaluoto of Charon, take over the vocal duties, and invite his friend and brother in arms Janne Kukkonen do the bass. Let me tell you what would happen - what would happen would be an amazing project called Poisonblack that has recently released its debut record under the title of "Escapextasy". Melodic, sensuous, full of passion and emotion, an album on the verge of madness - this product is exactly what we need in this world of totally depressive gothic rock. It is alive and that's the only thing that matters. The breath of fire-demons burns your skin, strange shadows dance on walls accompanied by the mystic voice of J.P., and desires replace each other in your head at the speed of light. Make your wish and they will fulfil it, for there's nothing prohibited in the world of Poisonblack. The best tracks on the record are undoubtedly 'Exciter' and 'Lay Your Heart to Rest'. And to top it all off, note the stylish cover artwork presented by Vesa Ranta. A truly magnificent debut. (Debbie Boink)

5-/5
THE PROVENANCE
Still At Arms Lenght
2002
Scarlet Records / CD-Maximum
Dark Metal/Folk-Rock/Blues

I'll be damned, Scarlet Records have finally come up with a record that is worthy of listening?! ;) Jolly good! I mean I was getting kind of tired of their endless line of mediocre clowns, busting their asses in the attempt to copy In Flames, the Haunted, each other, and devil only knows who else. Unlike any of their brothers-in-label The Provenance are a distinctive band that develops its own concepts, and strives for something of their own, rather than looking at the others. The material represented at Saal is quite peculiar, combining elements of Dark Metal (thundering mid-to-slow tempo riffing, crushing drum blasts, and a thick roar in the vein of Thomas Ackerfeld), clean, sometimes whispering male vocals, full-blooded, long guitar solos, hushed blues plunking, and high-pitched and sad female voices with spanned volume breaks ranging from sweet and tender declamations to intense yells, plus a set of non-traditional devices such as Hammond, oriental guitars and Kashmir strings, flute and the already more traditional synth. As a result you get a very thick gumbo that will take a long and pleasant while to devour.
(St.Ded)

5/5
PSILOCYBE LARVAE
Agony
2003
Black Side Production
black/doom

Here's the second album of this talented Vyborg-based combo. A year ago we were reviewing their debut "Stigmata" CD and now the time has come for the second effort under the title of "Agony". Excellent work. I personally do not know what could have happened to the guys over the past year, however they did make some dramatic progress. The fantastic atmosphere of the instrumental parts and the grave-old horridness of guitar riffing will surely dump you headfast into the realms of total chaos and madness. The abyss has opened its embrace, the fall is imminent, and the moments of zero gravity give way to the eternal smash against the sharp teeth of cold stones. A bleeding mesh that used to be a human body is agonizing and sinking deep into the shadow world of ashes. Now it is time for the liberated ratio to embrace the flows of cyberspace. Hellfire but boy is it beautiful when presented by Vitaly Belobritsky and company so that you wanna dive into it again and again. A wild age for the wild at heart P.S. I remember last year Rag Doll downed their review by one point due to unimpressive cover artwork. This year everything has changed. The design is an author's work (by a Vladimir Parshikov) which definitely adds some bonus points, A very original idea, and hey - are those not the faces of boys themselves on the cover? (Debbie Boink)

2+/5
REACTOR
Critical Mass
2003
CD-Maximum
Badass Industrial
I don't know why but prior to listening to this CD I violated one of the paramount laws, that is "never look into the CD inlay prior to listening to the music". I still don't know what made me open this thin glossy brochure and look at the photos inside. That was my crime and punishment. The two faces that stared at me from the centerfold instantly made me believe that their proprietors could easily crack somebody's skull open with a crowbar, hijack a truckload of Ecuador bananas, but write music? - NEVER! Anyone but them! In a wink of an eye I remembered all of the classic bad-ass twins of Hollywood and thought that with these two in the presence the term of chamber music assumes a whole new meaning and a necessity to specify what sort of a chamber we are talking about. In the meantime my ears were approached by thick industrial chords, sequenced drums, and a bunch electronic FX. I do understand that many people out there would drool and shit all over themselves the moment they hear the names of Rammstein and Sepultura, and there's even more of those who like such things as, say, restaurants and good food, but why, oh why does everyone have to be a musician? However, on second though, everything could of been much, much worse. Moreover, had the duo put in a bit more effort into the record and my intonations would have been much more exclamatory. The guitar material is quite traditional and genre-compliant - groovy and snapping, although lacking in originality. At the same time while the vocals are pretty weak and unconvincing, the drum samples and the electronic parts are definitely done with taste and knowledge (still could have used a bit more effort, but whatever). As for the lyrics, well, phrases like "if my gun paint your scin to the red" speak for themselves, I guess. In all, had the boys been more responsible and accurate, this review could have been a good deal better. (St.Ded)

5-/5
SALACIOUS GODS
Sunnenvot
2002
Coldblood Industries/CD-Maximum
Black Metal

It has been many years now that the world metallic community is pondering a question, that in all seriousness could have easily challenged the monumentality of all Shakespeare dilemmas put together, that is - "Is Black Metal dead yet?" Well I felt like this melting pot of unrest debates could not possibly live without me invaluable opinion here. What has to be said here is that although the works of the flagmen (or flagbands for that instance) are entirely significant and in many ways determinative, still just as Russia is not just Moscow, modern day black metal is not just a handful of lucky acts who - as luck would have it - found themselves on the top of the mountain. SG are far from the avant-garde yet, but their "Sunnevot" album is inspiring much hope both in this young and talented band and the style in general. Not really being revolutionary this release is still doubtless fresh, individual and, what is often referred to, as creative. The guitar material is complicated and well-thought with its mid-tempo ever-changing rhythm-pattern that carves a unique face of its own for each and every song. The keyboard parts are colorful, unusual and yet not nauseating appearing both as inserts and accompaniment. Separate attention must be paid to the drum section which is technical, musltifaced, and spiteful with both wall-like Morbid-Angelesque rumblings, fierce blast-beats and starry jewels of the cymbals. The ear-penetrating sheer screams of a possessed witch are also every so beautiful. Being somewhere in-between the polar points of the advocates of necro-grimness and the pathos-filled lovers of all things melodic this CD is likely to get smashed from both sides. However the truth is somewhere else: Black Metal is alive! (St.Ded)

5/5
SEPTIC FLESH

Sumerian Demons
2003
Hammerheart/FONO
atmospheric techno death doom black

Do you know how to tell when a band really reaches the status of a great one? When instead of trying to define their style and genre you simply put in the name and know everyone will understand exactly what you mean. Well that's the very case! Moreover, to be completely honest with you, I do not have any idea of what else do I have to write about this album really. I could have said that SD is "one of the best releases of 2003" but this would have very little meaning. Another alternative would be urging every one of you out there rush to the store and buy the CD - well, this would of been the best advice I could come up with in the past couple of years, but who's gonna believe the old and silly troll? Back off into the corner and hush it up? - that's simply unprofessional. So, with all of the above in mind, I figured the only option I had left was going with the good old word associaiton method - so: Amorphis, Dimmu-Borgir, Alastis, Tiamat, Chaostar, Morgul, Cradle of Filth Is this enough for you? What do you mean "how"? That's how. When the shake is ready stir it all with a mixer, pour into shot-glasses and serve with whipped-cream and strawberries (Troll)

2/5
SEVENTH AVENUE
Between The Worlds
2003
Massacre Records/Art Music Group
Christian metal

In nominee padre, et fili, et spiritu sancti, blah-blah-blah - translated into English and stretched over 60+ minutes of playback time. The most nauseating hymns that you could only imagine about the eternal fight of good versus the evil coupled with taking the ineffable name of Jesus in vain, that is at the rate of each third line in the lyrics. At that, "Wings of Dawn" is based upon Gospel 139, although the lyrics by-line lists on of the band-members as the author, while "Levy Your Soul from hate" has been ripped off Sammet's "Avantasia", not to mention the naphthalene-reeking cover of Survivor's "Burning Heart". An amazing lack of taste, I'd have to say. I really do not know what could of happened in the heads of the young and talented band over the past three years, but after hearing their "Good Bye"-EP some time ago, I can't but be unpleasantly surprised and disturbed by this CD. I mean, do they mean to say that it has REALLY taken them 3 years to record this? What puzzles me even more is how THIS could have been produced by Victor Smolsky and Sascha Paeth. Anyone remember this funny 80ies band called Stryper? Well, "Between the Worlds" belongs to their discography really. What I'm musing now is whether Seventh Avenue too will distribute bibles at their shows, for a tour to support the album is about to start. (Debbie Boink)

4/5
SIGMA
Win or Lose
2003
promo
heavy metal/power

Hard-boiled and melodic Italo-power metal under the name of Sigma. Although it is kinda hard to make a judgment listening to a 5-track long promo, but I could surely mention the excellent "Win Or Lose" - written in the best traditions of Stratovarius. The next track to mention is the majestic and marvelous instrumental "The Lake" that could easily fir to some historical flick soundtrack, where at the break of dawn a ship would cut through the blue mirror of a huge, fog-coveted lake. The mid-tempo "Pride and Forgiveness" will also hardly leave a soul unmoved. In all the promo is extremely good and easy to listen to. Indeed ther eis something attractive about the Italian metal bands. (Debbie Boink)

2/5
SOUL DEMISE
IN Vain
2003
Season of Mist/CD-Maximum
New wave of Swedish melodic thrash metal (NWOSMTM)

Soul Demise is a phenomenon of Thrash Metal! Their latest effort produced quite a lot of noise on the scene, and could it have been any different? Well no, of course not, because have you ever heard a quiet thrash metal release. No I mean really-seriously these lads have become the 148th band out there that wants to be the Haunted. So what are their feats? Well, firstly with them in line we have only two band to go before the jubilee 150 clone. Another characteristic feature of there is that their music has even less sense than the 147th band, but more that the 149th will. For those of you who don't remember the Haunted play a fast, technical, berserker Thrash with rapid, and sometimes melodic riffing, unbridled and pumped up drumming, and banshee yells for the vocals. The Haunted do have a multitude of other assets in addition to the above, but Soul Ddemise have only managed to rip off these ones. With that I wish them luck and further creative achievements. (St.Ded)

5/5
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD
SYL
2003
Century Media Records/FONO
another weird fetus born by the fucked up and magnificent Devin Townsend

I do have to admit I have never heard Strapping Young Lad before (for shame, for shame!) And I tells you what, if the above is still the case with some of you - do yourself a huge favor and check this album out, or else your kids will never forgive you that. I mean I don't remember the last time I have heard anything so head-breaking and brain-destroying. The raw primal aggression exhaled from each note on the record is both mesmerizing and scaring. Stylistically SYL goes somewhere in between Hypocrisy and Faith No More. The main highlight of the record - none other than "Relentless" with its primitive, but totally crunchy riff - I looped in my CD-player while I was sitting in the office, something I'd never done before. To put it straight - an amazing work of a genius master. (Troll)

5/5
TENHI
Vare
2002
Prophecy Productions/CD-Maximum
Blessed Eskimo rock

Rush, scandals, depression, morning coffee "To go", a flickering anthill of the city - all of this piles up and then a day comes when you realize that you have to break away from this rat race, take five, and follow the call of the wild away from the people and civilization. Early spring, thick of the forest, foot of a giant hill, silence, the spanless columns of century-old trees whose crowns sway slowly at reachless height and let the jolly rays of the caressing sun dance on your face. You sit on a downed trunk and shadowing your eyes from the light look around lazily. Nothing is attracting your attention, your nerves are relaxed, and you hear a spring jingle somewhere near you. The nature is waking up and is quietly rejoicing at its awakening. Everything is transparent, airy, and cool. Each sound clear, echoing and crystal oozes calm and appeasement. Filled with contemplation you rise to your feet, stretch and start walking towards the top. On your way you walk into a large cave, step in, lay down your sack, and sit down to rest, soon your eyes close and you fall to sleep cradled by the sound of thaw. These are the thoughts that whirl in your head when you hear Tenhi. A timeless and, echoing album played with a very non-standard set of instruments: aside from bass, acoustic guitars and synth, the band used flute, violin, cello, Jewish harp, and several exotic items from the far North, including a deep shamanic chanting voice. Support WWF (wilderness not wrestling! ;-)) (St.Ded)

4/5
THY MAJESTIE
Hastings 1066
2003
Scarlet Records / CD-Maximum
power

If you weren't your teacher's favorite pupil in History at school, and if the names of Harold II and William I the Conqueror are all Greek to you, it means that you will not be able to enjoy the latest conceptual work of the Italian power-metallers under the name of Thy Majesty. The new creation of the band is entirely devoted to the happenings on the Foggy Albion that took place back in the 11th century, the time of cunning intrigues and palace revolutions, In 1065 the King of England who had no children died and pronounced the Duke of Normandy his sole heir as a sign of gratitude for the help that the latter provided in his battles against the Danes. However, the duke hardly had the time to get to his new kingdom to find that the local nobels have already elected Harold, the brother of the late queen their king. Astonished by such ignobility William sent his ambassadors to England to remind the newly appointed autocrat of the word he had given back in the times when the old king was still alive, and Harold was taken prisoner by William's troops. Back then William would not set Harold free until the latter promised he'd help the duke become the king. So we end up with one throne and two brave and ardent warriors ('The King and the Warrior'), which in fact is the album opener. The beautiful melodies coupled with asounding choirs of Teatro Massimo Opera Choirs of Palermo entwined into them, create an unforgettable impression of the majestic and the cruel Middle Age. You feel as if you are standing right there among the Anglo-Saxon troops on the hill not far from Hastings ('The Sight of Telham Hill') on the 10th day of October 1066, and as if it is your lap in which the brave Harold is dying downed by the sharp Norman arrow ('Demons of the Crown'). Overall a mature and impressive work, especially compared to the previous album. The only drawback here for me personally was the excessive abundance of instrumental inserts that somehow steal the battle spirit of the music. If you are tired of the stupid fairy tales about the silly elves, and you lust for the dangling of real swords, then this CD is for you. (Debbie Boink)

2/5
NATISK
Odinokiy Geroy
2002
Moroz Records
russian heavy metal

Boy, do Russians love Heavy Metal, they do play it badly but there's so much soul in the way they play it, it could actually make a shed a tear or two over the long gone eighties. These are the years I remember when listening to the debut CD of Natisk (Onrush) under the title of Odinoky Geroi (Lone Hero). Funny but I can't remember the last time I heard anything more eclectic than that, and the key question that pops up in me head when I hear this album is why at all anyone wanted to issue this gumbo. I mean, okay, the guys in Natisk are all ex-members of the local now kvlt and defunct bands, such as Adolf Castle, Hellraiser, and Agoniya. Okay, so what they did was take their old instruments and hits out of the closet and - voila - we get a super duper ole' school album. The only trouble with it is that listening to it is really-really painful. Cuz, next to the absolutely awesome "Ya budu zhdat'" (I'll Be Waiting) we get an unlawfully Maiden-like "Beglets" (Runaway) in which the percentage of rips off the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" exceeds any allowed concentration whatsoever. Basically this is the way it continues throughout the album - a note hear, a lick there - and there goes the 'Lone Hero'. No surprise the press-release calls the guys the heirs of Aria, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden. My question here is - is this the whole list of the bands they ripped off or is there more? The only thing that is in fact worth mentioning on this one is the totally amazing voice of the lead singer (a rare case nowadays I these parts), and the totally awful squeals of the back vocalist, whom I could identify as male only after looking at the band photos. Only for those in nostalgia for the good ole' days. (Debbie Boink)

3-/5
HVANGUR
Krov' i Pepel (Blood and Ashes)
2003
CD-Maximum
Folk Slavonic black metal

The ancient spake: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don't know whether the boys from Hvangur were going to hell, but the idea behind their album is beautiful as for the implementation Well, I will do the boys justice - they do have a potential (plus the material they are playing is pretty complex play-wise), but that's about it so far. Structurally and stylistically "Krov' I Pepel" (Blood and Ashes) sounds a lot like Falkenbach. Mid-tempo and often very intense Black Metal, that would a t times break down to epic harmonies. The drum parts - probably, the most successful and, objectively speaking, the most powerful component of the whole album, yet however I am not so sure whether the "disdainful" [J] Sandovalesque beats were so much necessary here. Luckily enough there is not so many of those on this record. The vocal parts come in a set of classic black screams, with the minor addends of death-klike growling and a deep Slavonic bass. Would have been pretty good, had this bass not sounded so faceless and uninteresting: poorly recorded and weakly sung. The evolution of the songs too leaves much to be desired. Again, the original ideas are pretty good, but their development largely is too weak. I mean adding keyboards to your music is a bright idea, but its implementation sounds pretty uninventive, with no real intentness. The lyrics that are abundant with ancient Russian words and structures did not move me either, for words are not enough - you gotta put sense behind them too, and know how to use them correctly This is not selling "matryoshkas" by the Intourist hotel, but this is not art yet either. I did enjoy listening to the album, but I do have to tell you, Hvangur are still far from the level of acceptable. . (St.Ded)

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